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25.6.  EU's relations with Asian countries and Oceania

    The European Strategy for Asia is founded on a development partnership and on political dialogue [COM/94/314 and COM/2001/469]. The EU Asiatic strategy concerns Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, North Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam. Many Asiatic countries benefit from the Union's financing instrument for development cooperation [see section 24.4].

    The main priority of the EU Asiatic strategy is to encourage cooperation and regional integration. To achieve this, the EU supports work and dialogue with the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF), the Trans-Eurasia Information Network (TEIN), the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) and the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN). The second priority encourages cooperation based on policy and know-how in the fields of the environment, education and health. The objective of the third priority is to support uprooted people in Asia by assisting them to return and settle in their country of origin or in a third country with the help of the European Office for Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) [see section 24.7].

    European aid has had a relatively positive impact in the countries belonging to the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), which comprises Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The cooperation agreement between the EC/EU and most of these countries dates back to 1980 [Agreement and Regulation 1440/80, Protocol 1985 and Protocol 1999]. It is completed by trade agreements on manioc from Thailand [Agreement and Protocol] and Indonesia [Agreement] granting better access for their products to the European market. As a follow-up to its communication on "Europe and Asia: a strategic framework for enhanced partnerships" [COM/2001/469], the Commission proposed revitalising the relations between the EU, ASEAN and the countries of South-East Asia, and identified the strategic priorities, creating a framework for future bilateral agreements [COM/2003/399].

    The agreement concluded with India is an advanced framework cooperation agreement emphasising economic cooperation and private sector investment, intellectual property rights, technology transfer and diversification of economic and trade relations [Agreement and Decision 94/578]. Similar non-preferential agreements, called "third generation", comprising three areas of cooperation, namely trade, economic and development cooperation, and making respect for human rights a key condition for the development of dialogue and partnership have been concluded with Mongolia [Agreement and Decision 93/101], Sri Lanka [Agreement and Decision 95/129], Vietnam [Agreement and Decision 96/351] and Nepal [Agreement and Decision 96/354].

    EU relations with China were established in 1975 and are now governed by a trade and economic cooperation agreement covering industrial and technical fields [Agreement and Regulation 2616/85] and trade in textiles [Agreement and Decision 95/155]. In 2007, to reflect the EU's new strategy for Asia, negotiations began to upgrade this to a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. Already, the EU is China’s second largest trade partner, with China being the EU’s largest partner. Apart from regular political, trade and economic dialogue meetings, there are over 24 sectoral dialogues and agreements ranging from environmental protection to industrial policy to education and culture. On behalf of the European Community and its Member States, the Commission negotiated with China a whole series of commitments on the opening up of markets which are of particular importance to the European Union. These commitments were listed in the bilateral agreement signed by the People's Republic of China and the European Community on 19 May 2000, and are set out in the protocol of accession by China to the WTO [COM/2001/517 and COM/2001/518, see section 23.4].

    Japan has a huge trade surplus with the European Union, with its exports to the 27 countries being almost double of its imports from them. Nevertheless, the EU is becoming an increasingly important trading partner for Japan because of the size of the single European market and the efforts made to develop trade and cooperation. The EU-Japan bilateral relationship is anchored in two key documents: the Joint Declaration of 1991 and the Action Plan for EU-Japan Cooperation of 2001.The joint declaration sets out the general principles and objectives of cooperation between the two parties, notably stipulating that access to respective markets must be equitable and offer comparable opportunities through the removal of obstacles to trade and investments. It also stipulates the framework for dialogue, with annual summits and other meetings. The Action Plan of 2001 (''Shaping our Common Future'') is the key instrument giving new impetus to the relationship, with greater focus on concrete measures and concerted action over a ten-year period (until 2011). It has four basic objectives: promoting peace and security; strengthening the economic and trade partnership; coping with global and societal challenges; and bringing people and cultures together. The EU-Japan Centre for Industrial Cooperation is a venture between the European Commission and the Japanese Government aimed at improving EU and Japanese companies' competitiveness and cooperation by facilitating exchanges of experience and know-how between them [Decision 92/278]. The Commission in cooperation with the Member States is implementing a programme of specific measures and actions to improve access of European Union goods and cross-border services to Japan, ''EU Gateway programme'', in particular through training of executives and businessmen [Regulation 1934/2006, last amended by Regulation 1338/2011]. As regards more especially trade in motor vehicles, the EC/EU and Japan agreed on July 31, 1991 on a solution aiming at gradual liberalisation of the European market as part of the completion of the single market, while avoiding market distortion caused by exports from Japan [see section 23.5].

    The rapid industrialisation of the Republic of Korea in the second half of the 1980s gave several causes for European concern: the degree of openness of the Korean market, the abolition of restrictive legislation on foreign investment and equal treatment for foreign and Korean investors; non-discrimination, particularly in the areas of the protection of intellectual property and the problem of diversifying Korean foreign trade; industrial policy and competition problems in the shipbuilding sector. These problems were first faced in the context of a framework agreement for trade and cooperation that the EU has concluded with the Republic of Korea [Framework Agreement and Protocol]. This framework agreement has led to a Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Korea, of the other part, concerning goods, services, establishment and associated rules [Agreement and Decision 2011/265].

    The European Union and Australia in fact have a similar viewpoint on many of the international political problems. On the economic front, both parties are, however, satisfied with their 1982 agreement, relating to transfers of nuclear material from Australia to the European Atomic Energy Community [Agreement] and their cooperation, since 1986, on research and technology [Agreement and Decision 99/510]. The completion of the single market, the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and Australia's new industrial policy are pushing for closer trade links between this country and the EU, notably on trade in wine [Agreement and Decision 2009/49]. The EU-Australia Partnership Framework, adopted on 29 October 2008, is an action-oriented document emphasising practical cooperation. Although trade remains an important underpinning for the bilateral relationship, the overall political and economic relationship has over the years matured and developed more broadly to focus on global and regional challenges such as environment and climate change, energy, security and counter terrorism, stability in the Asia-Pacific region and cooperation in the WTO.

    An agreement between the EU and New Zealand aims to facilitate trade in live animals and animal products between the two parties by establishing a mechanism for the recognition of equivalence of sanitary measures maintained by the two Parties consistent with the protection of public and animal health [Agreement, last amended in 2006]. Trade remains very important but the wider political and economic relationship has broadened considerably in scope over the last years. Areas of cooperation and common concern include climate change, openness of world trade, security and development in the Asia and Pacific regions, and promotion of human rights. The EU-New Zealand Joint Declaration on Relations and Cooperation , adopted on 21 September 2007, shapes the relationship until 2012 and beyond.

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